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MYSTERY WRITERS

OF AMERICA
PRESENTs

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Volume copyright 2015 by Mystery Writers of America, Inc.


Introduction copyright 2015 by Mary Higgins Clark
The Five-Dollar Dress copyright 2015 by Mary Higgins Clark
White Rabbit copyright 2015 by Julie Hyzy
The Picture of the Lonely Diner copyright 2015 by Lee Child
Three Little Words copyright 2015 by Nancy Pickard
Damage Control copyright 2015 by Thomas H. Cook
The Day after Victory copyright 2015 by Brendan DuBois
Serial Benefactor copyright 2015 by Jon L. Breen
Trapped! copyright 2015 by Ben H. Winters
Wall Street Rodeo copyright 2015 by Angela Zeman
Copycats copyright 2015 by N. J. Ayres
Red-Headed Stepchild copyright 2015 by Margaret Maron
Sutton Death Overtime copyright 2015 by Judith Kelman
Dizzy and Gillespie copyright 2015 by Persia Walker
Me and Mikey copyright 2015 by T. Jefferson Parker
Evermore copyright 2015 by Justin Scott
Chin Yong-Yun Makes a Shiddach copyright 2015 by S. J. Rozan
The Baker of Bleecker Street copyright 2015 by Jeffery Deaver
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form
without written permission from the publisher.
All photographs the photographer as follows: jacket, CSchel, courtesy Gettyimages.com/
thinkstock; iv, Roman Kruglov; vii, Thomas Hawk; vii, Paul Stocker; xii, Angelo Amboldi;
xiv, Janine and Jim Eden; 11, The All-Nite Images; 12, Felinebird; 30, Jeffrey Zeldman;
42, Diego Torres Silvestre; 72, Dayna Bateman; Lt. Victor Jorgensen (U.S. Navy), courtesy
National Archives, College Park, MD; 103, Superstock, courtesy Getty Images; 104, Tony
Evans; 133, Scott Beale; 134, Eric Parker; 152, Pikadilly; 166, Phillip Kalantzis Cope; 191,
Francis Raymond; 192 and 201, Jeffrey Zeldman; 222, Michael S. Yamashita/
Corbis; 243, Axel Taferner; 244, Hans Elbl; 258, A. Strakey; 280, Chris Goldberg;
293, Shawn Hoke; 294, Bettmann/Corbis; 321, Eric Allix Rogers
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Number: 2014938241
ISBN: 978-1-59474-761-8
Printed in the United States of America
Typeset in Garamond and Stint Ultra Expanded
Designed by Timothy ODonnell
Production management by John J. McGurk
Quirk Books
215 Church Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
quirkbooks.com
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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MYSTERY WRITERS
OF AMERICA
PRESENTs

EDITED BY

MARY HIGGINS CLARK

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B
TA

LE OF CONTENT

Introduction

Mary Higgins Clark


ix

The Five-Dollar Dress

Mary Higgins Clark in Union Square


1

white rabbit

Julie Hyzy in Central Park


13

The Picture of the Lonely Diner

Lee Child in the Flatiron District


31

Three Little Words

Nancy Pickard on the Upper West Side


43

Damage Control

Thomas H. Cook in Hells Kitchen


73

The Day after Victory

Brendan DuBois in Times Square


93

Serial Benefactor

Jon L. Breen in the Empire State Building


105

Trapped!

Ben H. Winters in Chelsea


135

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Wall Street Rodeo

Angela Zeman on Wall Street


153

Copycats

N. J. Ayres in Alphabet City


167

Red-Headed Stepchild

Margaret Maron on the Upper East Side


193

Sutton Death Overtime

Judith Kelman on Sutton Place


201

Dizzy and Gillespie

Persia Walker in Harlem


223

me and mikey

T. Jefferson Parker in Little Italy


245

evermore

Justin Scott on the Hudson River


259

Chin Yong-Yun Makes a ShiddAch

S. J. Rozan in Chinatown
281

the baker of bleeCker street

Jeffery Deaver in Greenwich Village


295

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INTRODUCTION

Mary Higgins Clark

In 2015, Mystery Writers of America celebrated its founding seventy


years ago, in March 1945, during the closing days of World War II.
The founding group consisted of ten women and men, eventually gaining membership to about one hundred by the end of its first year. I
remember when I joined MWA over fifty years ago, only about ten
tables were needed at the annual Edgar Awards banquet, a much more
intimate affair than todays glittery gala.
Back then, the joke we told was about the man who went to a cocktail party and was asked by another guest what kind of job he had.
Im a writer, he said.
Oh, thats wonderful. What do you write?
Crime novels.
Pause. Icy stare. Then the put-down. I only read good books.
That was then, this is now. Today, suspense and crime novels, thrillers as the English call them, have taken their place worldwide as an
honored and thoroughly enjoyed branch of literature. And MWA has
grown right alongside the genre. From its humble beginnings, when
those ten authors met in Manhattan to form what would become todays MWA, our venerable organization has grown to more than 3,500
members around the world.
The seventieth anniversary of Mystery Writers of America is a very
special occasion. Since its founding, the organization has worked tirelessly to protect and promote mystery and crime writers, working in
conjunction with them, as well as with publishers and libraries, to elevate both the genre and its authors. And that is why our tireless former executive vice president and current publication committee chair,

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I N T R O D U C T I O N mary higgins clark

Barry Zeman, and I conceived the idea of a special anniversary tribute collection celebrating Manhattan, where MWA was conceived and
created.
Manhattan Mayhem is my third MWA anthology, and although I
am proud of each one, this one holds a unique place in my heart. I invited a stellar collection of authors, including those who had previously
given their time and talents to my past anthologies and are still active
in MWA, as well as writers I have not had the pleasure of working with
until now. Each was asked to select an iconic Manhattan neighborhood
in which to set a story. The result is a marvelously diverse collection
of tales that takes place from one end of the borough to the other
from Wall Street to Union Square, Central Park to Harlem, and Times
Square to Sutton Place South, as well as eleven other evocative New
York City locations.
Some writers decided to visit the Manhattan of the past, such as
N. J. Ayres in Copycats, a gritty tale of postWorld War II cops and
criminals, and The Baker of Bleecker Street, Jeffery Deavers tale of
wartime espionage. In The Day after Victory, Brendan DuBois chose
to write about a pivotal moment in the citys history, V-J Day in Times
Square. Angela Zeman selected a different era, the bustling early 1990s,
for Wall Street Rodeo, a story of street hustlers and cons-within-cons
that plays out on the street hailed as the financial capital of the world.
Other authors spun stories that encompass many years and, often,
decades. Jon L. Breen tells of a series of unsolved crimes that reach back
more than half a century in Serial Benefactor. T. Jefferson Parker
takes us on a tour of the darker side of Little Italys crime families
from the 1970s to today in Me and Mikey. Judith Kelmans Sutton Death Overtime combines the perils and pitfalls of mystery-novel
writing and the disappearance of a Manhattan socialite whose case is
laid to rest decades later . . . or is it? Native Manhattanite Justin Scott
weaves one of our most fanciful tales, crossing crime, time, and space
to spectacular effect in Evermore. I also offer a story of my own. The
Five-Dollar Dress is a cautionary tale about how we may never truly
know those closest to our hearts.

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I N T R O D U C T I O N mary higgins clark

But of course, even today, Manhattan is a hotbed of imagined


crimes and mystery as well as the real thing. For some of our stories,
family is at the heart of a crime. In Three Little Words, Nancy Pickard
reveals the often-spiteful core of the Big Apple and what happens when
one woman tries to change it. The mystery-solving mother of series
detective Lydia Chin tackles a missing-persons case brought to her by
her son in S. J. Rozans Chin Yong-Yun Makes a Shiddach, while in
Red-Headed Stepchild fellow MWA grand master Margaret Maron
shows a step-sibling rivalry that matches anything adults can dream up.
Thomas H. Cook portrays how some family ties can bind to the bitter
end in Damage Control, set in a gentrified Hells Kitchen, and Persia
Walkers Dizzy and Gillespie tells of a dispute between neighbors in
a Harlem apartment building, with a loving daughter caught in the
middle.
All these wonderful stories, and weve barely scratched the surface.
Lee Childs drifting modern warrior Jack Reacher makes a stop in the
Big Apple in The Picture of the Lonely Diner, in which just exiting
a subway station ensnares him in enough intrigue and danger to fill a
novel. A sunny day in Central Park turns dangerous for at least one
perpetrator in Julie Hyzys White Rabbit. And Ben H. Winters takes
us behind the cutthroat world of Off-Broadway theater in Trapped!
Our esteemed publisher, Quirk Books, has illustrated each of the
stories with maps and photographs from these classic neighborhoods,
making Manhattan Mayhem a unique tribute and keepsake anthology
in honor of a very special organization and an equally special city.
We hope youll be as pleased reading these stories as we were writing them.

xi

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U P P E R eas T S I D E

a message from

M Y S T E RY W R I T E R S
OF AMERICA

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of MWAs seventieth anniversary, we would


like to take a moment on behalf of the organization to extend our
deepest appreciation to Mary Higgins Clark. Since joining its ranks as
a young writer, she has consistently been a tireless champion of MWA,
our members, and mystery writers worldwide.
Mary is always ready to lend a helping hand in our endeavors. In
addition to many tasks performed on behalf of MWA during her more
than ten years as a member of the National Board of Directors, as
MWAs national president she served as an indefatigable and peerless
leader and spokeswoman for our genre. Mary also took on a small job
that lasted for two years, organizing and chairing the 1988 International Crime Congress, a stellar weeklong affair hosting mystery and crime
writers from all over the world.
If that were not enough for one individual to give of her time and
talent, Mary has also edited three annual MWA anthologies and contributed to many more.
She is a talented and beloved writer, and her outstanding contribution to the genre was duly recognized when she was named MWA
Grand Master for her outstanding body of consistently high-quality
work produced over her storied career.
Much has changed since Mary first joined our ranks, but she,
thankfully, has remained the same gracious, warm, and caring person
she has always been, and we are all richer for knowing her. Certainly
recognized worldwide as The Queen of Suspense, around here she is
known as The Queen of Our Hearts.
We offer our deepest and most sincere thanks for Marys many
years of selfless service to Mystery Writers of America and writers everywhere. We hope there are many more to come.

ON T H E OCCA SION

Barry T. Zeman
Chair, Publications Committee
Ted Hertzel, Jr.
Executive Vice President

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a
Be

WALL STREET

UPPER EAST

n
ce

t r a l pa r k

E 76th St
E 76th St

Union Square E

Park Ave S

Union Square W

E 17th St
ALICE IN
WONDERLAND
STATUE

E 16th St

E 76th St
E 75th St
E 74th St
E 73rd St
E 72nd St

E 15th St

E 71st St
E 70th St
E 69th St
E 68th St

E 14th St

E 67th St
E 66th St
E 65th St

UNION SQUARE

CENTRAL PARK

w hite rabbit

Julie Hyzy

The young woman sitting on the bench stopped fingering a strand of


her white-blonde pixie cut. Startled, she looked up, shielding her eyes
from the sun. Excuse me?
I asked if you were recapturing your childhood. The man who
had spoken reached down to tap a corner of the book lying on her lap.
He had a round face and the sort of little-boy haircut most men ditch
long before they hit thirty. Wearing black-framed glasses and a bushy
brown beard, he carried a soft paunch and a beat-up messenger bag.
Interesting reading choice, he said. Especially considering the
view. My names Mark, by the way.
Stiffening, the young woman clutched the collar of her sweater.
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central park

Although most of the benches ringing the popular spot were unoccupied, this corner of Central Park was far from desolate. Tourists clambering to pose with its central attractionan eleven-foot-tall Alice in
Wonderland statue included three young families and a group of
college-age kids eagerly snapping photos and sharing results.
I dont make a habit of talking to strangers, she said, turning her
attention to two toddlers in shiny neon jackets attempting to climb the
giant bronze sculpture. Their father leaned against the White Rabbit
and squinted at his phone.
Im not strange. Mark sat on the bench next to her, settling his
bag on his lap. But your comment makes me curious. Are you?
She didnt answer.
One of the toddlers, lying prone atop a low mushroom, lost his
chubby grip and slid off sideways, landing hard. A split second later,
his piercing wails jolted the father into attentiveness. He pocketed the
phone and picked up the kid.
Mark pointed and leaned close. Shouldnt they be in school?
Too young, she said. Listen, I dont want to be rude
Then dont be. He propped one elbow atop the bench back and
settled an ankle across a knee. Exhaling loudly, he rested his other hand
on the messenger bag. Relax. Were at a popular attraction in the middle of a busy park on a sunny October afternoon. Theres no harm in a
little conversation.
She lifted her book. There is if it keeps me from reading.
Except you arent, he said. Reading, that is.
What do you think this is? This time when she lifted the book,
she shook it. A surfboard?
He drew her attention to the nearby steps, where a young woman
hunched over a paperback in her left hand while biting the thumbnail
of her right. Shes reading. He extended his arm, pointing at a pair
of joggers rounding the model boat pond. Theyre not reading. With
an amused look on his face, he said, Amazing powers of observation,
coupled with deductive skill. He spread his hands. Its a gift.
Id say youre full of yourself.

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w hite rabbit j u lie hy z y

You wouldnt be the first. Hang on. He pointed again, this time
skyward. Lifting his chin into the crisp, twisty breeze, he pulled in a
deep breath through his nose. Did you catch that? He continued
with barely a pause. That familiar smell, right on time. You recognize
it, dont you? Death and new beginnings in one fragrant breath. Wornaway leaves and pristine notebooks. Every autumn it comes, right on
schedule. Sometimes it lasts for days; sometimes its gone before you
exhale.
Very poetic, but that doesnt answer
He walked his fingers along the edge of her book. Youve been
sitting here for an hour with Alices Adventures in Wonderland on your
lap, but you havent turned a single page.
Her voice rose. Youve been watching me?
He scratched his neck. Watching makes me sound like a stalker.
Cant have that. Lets just say you pique my interest.
If thats supposed to be a pickup line
Its not. Call me curious. Call me intrigued.
Call you a weirdo, she said.
He laughed. Touch. What did you say your name was?
I didnt.
Oh, right. Youre being careful. He smirked as he stretched the
word out. Youre afraid Mark-in-the-park might tempt you out of
your comfort zone. Dont worry, he said with a dismissive wave, I
like knowing peoples names, is all. A quirk of mine. I thought youd be
someone who appreciated a little witty repartee. He pushed his glasses
farther up his nose. You dont look uptight or fainthearted. Apparently,
I made the clichd mistake of . . . He touched her book again. Judging by a cover.
She closed it with a thump. Im leaving now.
No, youre not, he said. Youre waiting for something. Or someone. Am I close?
My reason for being here is none of your business.
How about this, then? He patted the messenger bag. You wont
leave because you want to know what I have in here.

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central park

Why would I care?


Lets see. He opened the bag slowly, grinning as he unbuckled the
leather strap and peeled it back. Using his thumb and index finger, he
reached inside, latched onto something solid, and gently eased it out.
What are the chances? he asked as he dropped a copy of Alices
Adventures in Wonderland into her lap. Blue hardcover. Gold lettering.
Identical to hers.
She jerked in surprise. Whats going on? What are you trying to pull?
Whoa, sorry, he said. Just thought it was a fun coincidence.
Nothing more. The only thing Im trying to pull is a little conversation.
Geez.
No way. What did you do? Run to the nearest bookstore and buy
this? You really are a stalker.
Oh, come on. When she didnt respond, he said, Okay, even if
I had gone to such drastic lengths, tell me: to what end? Youre streetsmart, youre savvy. A little paranoid, perhaps, but this is New York, so
that can be forgiven. What nefarious plan could possibly be served by
my producing this book at this moment?
She traced her fingers along its gold embossed title but didnt answer.
Now that you understand my reasons for chatting you up are
completely benign, we can begin anew, cant we? Hi, Im Mark.
She handed back the book. Im . . . Jane.
He grinned. Nice to meet you, Jane. Opening the cover, he
flipped pages until he reached an illustration of the Cheshire Cat. Hes
my favorite character.
He would be.
Mark chuckled. You see there? Weve known each other for ten
minutes and already we can share a joke. Im not so terrible, am I?
Jane didnt answer. The father and two toddlers were gone, as were
the photo-happy tourists. Theyd been replaced by a dozen kids, all
about five years old, who climbed and shouted and raced while two
women in matching day-care-emblazoned sweatshirts supervised. On
the bench directly opposite, three twentysomething professionals chatted, then raised paper coffee cups in an animated toast that was lost to

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w hite rabbit j u lie hy z y

the wind.
May I? Mark asked.
It took Jane a second to realize he was reaching for her book. She
slammed both hands down. Dont touch it.
Sorry. He shrugged as though it made no difference. I thought
Id compare copyright dates. See which one is older. I didnt mean to
offend you.
Theyre exactly the same. Anyone can see that.
At that moment an old, bearded man shuffled past. Wearing an
overcoat with a frayed collar, he carried a grubby cup and a fragment of
creased cardboard. He approached the day-care workers first, earning
twin evil-eyed glares before getting shooed away. Unfazed, he turned
and made his unsteady way toward Jane and Mark.
He shook his paper cup of change in front of her. The clumsily
lettered cardboard sign he held read: Please share. Below that: In pain.
Jane turned her head and murmured, No, thank you.
Mark pulled a wallet from the messenger bag, drew out a couple of
singles, and stuffed them into the beggars cup. The old guy grunted,
then shuffled away to take a seat behind the statue.
You realize hell probably drink that donation, Jane said.
Mark shrugged. He pushed up his glasses and resumed paging
through his book, stopping to spend an extra second or two at each
illustration. When he lifted his head again, he asked, Why here? He
gestured at the bronze Alice sitting atop a giant mushroom, her cat
Dinah in her lap. And why the book? Any special significance?
She bunched her sweaters neckline. Why do you care?
Sorry. He lifted both hands. Didnt mean to touch a nerve.
Again. Two adults, same time, same place, same book. Seems like one
heck of a coincidence. I know why Im here. I was curious about you.
Why are you here? she asked.
Birthday, if you must know, he said with a grin. I took the day
off from work to do something special for myself.
Happy birthday, she said with little warmth.
He nodded.

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central park

Is sitting in Central Park with Alice the best something special


you could come up with? she asked.
This year, it is. He turned a few more pages. Im making myself
a gift of good memories.
So youre here to recapture your childhood?
Something like that. Cant help thinking about my dad today. He
didnt always know how to connect with his children. But, man, give
him a book to read aloud, and the guy turned into a Shakespearean actor with a deep baritone voice. Of course, as a kid, I didnt know what
a Shakespearean actor was or what baritone meantbut I can still hear
him now. He lifted his copy of Alice. This book was his favorite.
Jane smoothed her pixie cut as though tucking it behind an ear. Is
your father . . . gone?
Late last year, he said.
Im sorry.
Mark lifted his chin toward the statue where the day-care kids
clambered and crawled. He used to bring us here when we were kids.
And read to us. I cant help but associate this place with him.
Jane remained quiet.
Still staring at the kids, Mark said, This is the first birthday
since He gave himself a quick shake. Enough of my melancholy
reflections. Tell me what brings you here. I hope your reason is happier
than mine.
Jane took her time before answering. I dont know why Im here.
Not really. She glanced down at the book in her lap, then up at the
statue, then at Mark. I guess the best explanation I can give you is that
I came here today for closure.
That doesnt sound happy.
She looked away. You know how you always hear about criminals
returning to the scene of the crime?
Yes.
How come you never hear about the victims? Nobody talks about
their paintheir need to return.
Oh, I see, he said in a breath. Im sorry to hear it. If you dont mind

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w hite rabbit j u lie hy z y

me asking, what happened? Sometimes talking to a stranger can help.


I thought you said you werent strange.
Good catch. He smiled. So, maybe I lied about my pickup lines.
Not going to work on me, sorry.
Fair enough. Forget all that. No silly games. As Im sure youve
noticed, I can talk your ear off. But Im a good listener, too.
Four times Jane smoothed the side of her pixie, tucking nonexistent hair behind her ear. She bit her lip.
Mark cleared his throat. Central Park is pretty safe most of the
time, and this spot tends to be busy with kids and tourists. He waited
a beat. But obviously it isnt safe enough. Not if you were injured . . .
or hurt . . . here.
Not me. She shook her head and ran her fingers up and down the
books edges. Do you remember the young woman who was murdered
in the park a year ago?
Someone was murdered? His brows came together. Here?
Jane pulled in a shuddering breath. This is hard for me.
Take your time.
Im surprised you dont remember. The story got massive coverage
because her father was some bigwig in the police department.
Oh, wait, he said. I do recall hearing about that. That was a
particularly brutal crime, wasnt it?
Jane nodded.
They never caught the guy, did they?
Jane shook her head.
I take it you knew her? Mark asked. Was she a friend? She wasnt
your sister, was she?
Taking another hard breath, Jane clenched her eyes shut. When she
opened them again, she whispered, I loved her.
Oh, Mark said. He stroked his beard, glancing from side to side.
You mean
Yeah, I mean what you think I mean. I was in love with her.
I dont remember her name, Mark said. Im sorry.
Janes body drew in on itself. Samantha.

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central park

Im very sorry for your loss. Mark swallowed, looking around


again. How long were you and Samantha together?
We werent, Jane said. I never got the chance to tell her how I felt.
A group of teenagers arrived in a collection of flailing legs, arms,
and shouted profanities. They swarmed the statue, displacing the fiveyear-olds, who whined their resentment. When one of the young men
swigged from a flask, the day-care workers gathered their charges and
hustled them away.
Mark drummed his fingers against his messenger bag. Im very
sorry, he said again. You said it happened about a year ago?
Today, Jane said. One year ago today.
Mark gave a low whistle. Now I understand. This is a vigil for your
friend. And I interrupted you. He waited a moment and then said, I
cant imagine how hard it must beI mean, hard to return to the place
where she was murdered.
It didnt happen here. It was deeper in the park, Jane said, in an
area the police said has a sketchy reputation.
Not the Ramble? he asked.
Thats it, she said. I guess its popular with bird-watchers and for
quick hookups. Ive never gone in there myself.
Theres a stretch of the Ramble near the lake thats seen a few assaults in recent years. Is that where it happened?
She held up both hands. No idea.
Mark scratched his head. Seems like a pretty bold move on the
killers part. How did he do it?
Jane made air quotes. Blunt force trauma, according to the police.
They found a tree branch nearby with her blood on it.
Blunt force. A less grisly way of saying she was bludgeoned to
death. Im very, very sorry this happened to her. Shaking his head,
Mark leaned back. Ive watched enough TV cop shows to know that
murder is a messy business. The guy who killed her is either some kind
of evil genius, or he got lucky.
Got lucky, I imagine. Jane shivered. She sat up a little straighter.
It does help to talk. You were right.

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w hite rabbit j u lie hy z y

Tell me about Samantha.


A nearby shout interrupted them. A policewoman with a determined expression started up the steps, bellowing at the boozing teenagers. The paperback-reading woman didnt flinch didnt even seem
to noticeas the cop strode past.
The teens bounded away before the officer reached the top of the
plaza. Two vaulted the low stone wall to the east while the rest scattered
north, disappearing into the park.
Jane followed the action. Cops never catch anybody anymore, do
they?
I dont think she tried very hard, Mark said.
Thats what I mean. They dont really try.
Tranquility restored, the officer took her time surveying the whimsical haven. She made a slow circuit around Alice, reaching out to skim
the Mad Hatters brim.
Jane drew in a deep breath and blew it out. I met Samantha only
a couple of weeks before she was murdered. She worked at the yogurt
place next to my office. You know how it is when you just click with
someone?
I do. Mark smiled. I feel like that today. He raised both hands.
Im not flirting. I swear.
Still gazing at the statue, Jane went on, Anyway, what I felt for
Samantha came on in a rush. Exactly like in a romance novel, where a
characters life shatters completely, and she knows shell never be whole
again. Not without that other person. Ive never experienced anything
like it before.
Thats beautiful.
After Samantha and I talked a few times, I really thought she felt
something for me, too. But she was so amazing, it scared me. What if I
misread her? I was afraid that if I spoke up, I might ruin everything.
Go on.
I started stopping by the shop more often. I could tell she wanted
to have a real conversation as much as I did, but every time we came
close, customers would swarm in. Jane rested a hand against her chest.

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central park

She had the sweetest White Rabbit necklace Ive ever seen.
Was that her favorite character? Mark asked. Or was Samantha
chronically late?
Oh, no. Samantha was conscientious and considerate. Jane
smiled. I knew she liked to come here on nice days. Always with a
book. I think it was her favorite place in the city.
It helps to talk about her, doesnt it?
Its so strange . . . you being here today . . . with that book. Its
like a sign, you know? And you really are a good listener. Jane started
to run her fingers through her hair but stopped abruptly. She frowned.
Im still not used to this. I got it done this morning.
Mark placed a hand on the slice of bench between them and leaned
in. You got your hair cut today? he repeated. On the anniversary of
your friends murder? Wait, dont tell me: Samantha wore her hair like
that, didnt she?
How did you know?
Lucky guess. Mark straightened, regarding her closely. Beautiful, but I have to ask: why?
Jane tugged at her sweater. Its a way for me to feel close to her
again. She stared down. I keep thinking that if Id only been braver
and spoken up, everything would have been different.
You cant blame yourself for what happened.
Doesnt matter. Its how I feel. Janes jaw tightened. Id do anything for a chance to go back and make things right.
Mark squinted into the wind. I have an idea that may help, he
said. Would you like to hear it?
Jane shrugged, then nodded.
He rubbed the side of his beard. When you were a kid, did you
ever burn secret notes?
What are you talking about?
Its a thing people did for a while. Maybe they still do. A cleansing,
empowering ritual. Sound familiar?
Not at all.
Okay, here goes. Mark sat back on the bench, stretched out his

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legs, and crossed his ankles. Elbows out, he laced his fingers atop his
head and began, At summer camp, when I was fifteen, the counselors
handed out small strips of paper and told us to write down either our
greatest fear or something we wanted to change about ourselves. No
talking. No sharing. Totally secret. Then, in a solemn ceremony involving lots of positive affirmation, we took turns tossing our scribbles
into a bonfire, watching as each one blazed up into nothingness. It felt
pretty hokey when the other kids did it, but . . .
He lifted both hands to the air, then replaced them atop his head
and resumed talking. Anyway, you get the idea. Identifying our deepest fears and then symbolically destroying them reminded us that
we had power over ourselves. That we controlled our impulses, rather
than the other way around.
Did it work?
Dropping his hands to his lap, he sat forward. It did. Thats probably why I remember the experience so vividly, even to this day. What
an exhilarating sense of freedom. Now, as an adult, I look back and
realize that what I really learned was how to compartmentalize. Although I may not be able to incinerate my negative behaviors so easily,
I can control when and how I deal with them. He waited a beat before
adding, Maybe you should consider a similar symbolic gesture. You
know, to deal with your grief.
The area was the quietest it had been all afternoon. Two kids played
and giggled. The old panhandler approached their parents and was rewarded with a handful of change.
Jane glanced around. I dont believe a bonfire would go over well
here.
Mark laughed. Ya think? But theres got to be something we can
do. Any ideas?
No.
Two squirrels scampered by.
Ive got it, Mark said. A brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.
What is it?
What if you tell Samantha how you felt? I mean, poured your

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heart out to her? Wouldnt that give you closure? Before she could
answer, he continued. Something brought us both here right now for
a reason. I think that something wants you to have peace.
Im not sure thats possible.
What if . . . Mark leaned close. What if you visit her grave? You
can speak from the heart there, for as long as you like.
Jane played with the neckline of her sweater. She was cremated.
Oh. Mark fell silent again. A moment later, he said, Then, what
about a quiet place in the park?
Here?
Not in this very spot, no. But she died in the park, so that makes
this a sacred space. Lets find a quiet knoll, a pretty meadow. He tapped
a finger against his lips. Do you know where Cedar Hill is? Again, before she could answer, he went on, By the Glade Arch. Its not that far,
and once we settle on a location, I promise to give you privacy. Come
on. He stood, offering her his hand.
Jane leaned back. I dont think so.
His face fell. You dont trust me?
Its not that.
Then what?
She didnt answer.
You cant go back in time, Jane, but I promise you can find closure.
She remained seated.
I think you should do this, he said softly. I believe Samantha
would want you to.
He looked down at her for a few moments before starting around
the statue toward the path that lay beyond. She remained frozen for a
solid count of thirty. When she finally stood, she hugged her book and
whispered, Closure.
The old man in the overcoat perked up as she drew near. He made a
feeble attempt to beg, jangling his cup of coins. She didnt speak, didnt
acknowledge him.
Mark waited for her at the paths opening. Good girl.
She stopped and stared up at him. I can do this.

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Theyd walked no more than a hundred yards when she whispered,


Is that beggar following us?
Mark turned. Probably hoping Ill cough up another couple
bucks.
I guess, she said. Doesnt it seem like hes moving quicker than
before?
He laughed. I can take him.
I dont know. He makes me nervous.
Mark veered left to cross East Drive, where he abandoned the walking path for the cover of the trees.
Where are we going? Jane asked. I thought we were heading
toward Cedar Hill.
Shortcut.
She followed, hurrying to keep up. Why are you walking so fast?
You want to lose that beggar, dont you?
They picked their way along the uneven terrain, sidestepping tree
roots that rose from the ground like giant knuckles. Twice Jane came
close to losing her footing while navigating a rocky patch. We passed
the Boathouse parking lot back there. She jerked a thumb over her left
shoulder. Are you sure were going the right direction?
This way, he said, leading them deeper into the trees. The ground
was soft, covered in shifting layers of red and gold. Crisp-edged leaves
somersaulted through patches of vivid brilliance where breaks in the
canopy allowed the suns illumination to pass through.
Are you sure? she asked, keeping pace.
Rather than answer, he continued to shush and crunch through the
quiet piles. Watch out. He indicated a fallen log, nearly obscured by
the leaves in her path.
Skirting it, she tried again. I think were going the wrong way.
Mark turned. Smell that, he said lifting his chin high, drawing a
noisy breath. Decay and deliverance. Theres nothing sweeter.
Jane slowed. She glanced from side to side. Were still headed west.
Shouldnt we be going north?
Mark waited for her to catch up. Placing a hand on Janes back,

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he pointed deep into the trees. Theres a lovely secluded spot not far
ahead. I think it would be an ideal place for our ritual.
Resisting the pressure of his hand, Jane stutter-stepped. I thought
we were going to the grassy hill, she said in a small voice.
Too many people, Mark said. A ritual like ours would attract
attention. I know of a quiet place with a sloping rock behind a giant
sycamore. A far better setting to pour out your heart.
She stopped. Where are you taking me?
If you truly long to be free, Jane, he whispered into her ear, then
this is your only path. Though his tone coaxed, it was the pressure
of his hand on her back that propelled her through the trees. Right
through there.
Stop. Her body went rigid. Why did you bring me here? Jane
looked up, down, side to side, like a little bird caught in a surprise cage.
Book tight against her chest, she stared past him, shaking her head.
No. The refusal came out hoarse and soft. She tried again. Please. No.
See? He pointed deeper into the dense woods toward a stone
outcropping just beyond a massive tree. You can see it from here. A
sacred place, dont you agree?
Again, Jane shook her head.
He locked a hand on her arm. Come on, well do this together.
Dont make me go in there.
Wouldnt Samantha want you to be brave, Jane?
She sucked in a breath. How do you know where Samantha died?
Wrenching out of his grip, she didnt wait for an answer. Sprinting back
the way theyd come, shed gotten no more than twenty feet when, with
a yelp, she stopped cold.
The old man in the overcoat blocked her path.
Mark shushed through the leaves to join her. I think the better
question is: How do you know?
Clean shaven now, the old man held his missing beard in one hand
and a gun in the other. He shook his head slowly but didnt say a word.
Whats happening? Jane asked him. Whats going on?
Mark held out his hand. Give me the book.

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But . . . its all I have left of her, she said.


No, Mark said. Its all we have left of her. Give it to me.
Jane loosened her grip on the blue-bound copy and handed it to him.
Mark removed his glasses, placed them in a pocket, opened the
books front cover and read aloud: To Laura. The corners of his
mouth tugged downward. May life be your Wonderland, Love, Dad.
I dont know why it says that, Jane said. Samantha never explained that inscription.
How could she? the old man asked. She was dead when you
took it from her. He holstered his gun beneath his coat. And her
name wasnt Samantha. It was Laura.
Who are you? she asked.
He opened his collar wide enough to expose the White Rabbit
necklace around his neck. Im her father, thats who.
Samanthas father? Her mouth dropped open. The police chief?
Laura, he corrected again. And only an inspector.
He tricked me into coming here. She pointed at Mark. Hes the
one who killed her. Who else could have known where she died?
Who else, indeed? The older man asked. But what I dont understand is how you lured my daughter in here. She never would have
come this way on her own. Never.
She followed me. Really, she did. Jane shook her head vehemently. You have to believe me. I would never have hurt Samantha. She
meant everything to me. Everything. I only took her book so that shed
talk to me.
She followed you in here? The old mans voice cracked. Because
you stole her book?
Jane kept shaking her head. But it turned out she wasnt my Samantha. Samantha would never have pushed me away. She never would
have said such terrible things.
She followed you in here? he repeated as he grabbed the book
from Marks hands. For this? Dropping his head, he pinched the
bridge of his nose and covered his eyes.
Dont you see, theres been a mistake. Jane twisted between the

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two men. Its him. He did it.


Mark laid a steadying hand on the older mans shaking shoulders.
We were afraid wed never find who murdered Laura. But you were
right, he said to Jane. Victims return to the scene of the crime, too.
Especially when its their only chance to catch a killer.
Youre the killer, Jane screeched. She must have told you how
she felt about me. Thats how you knew Id be here today. Turning to
the cop, she said, Dont you see? He bought that book to set me up.
Hes the one you should be arresting.
As the older man snapped handcuffs on Janes wrists, Mark pulled
his book from the messenger bag. He opened the front cover. To
Mark. His voice trembled and his eyes glistened. Stay curious as lifes
adventures unfold. Love, Dad. He waited until the older man looked
up again. Ive had this book for a very long time, havent I?
The cops jaw was tight. Long time.
Jane swallowed. I dont understand.
My sisters ritual was to read this book at the statue on her birthday every year, Mark said.
But . . . how could I know that? She wouldnt talk to me.
Is that supposed to justify killing her?
I didnt mean to hurt her, Jane said. But she got so angry with
me. I couldnt make her understand. When she tried to get away, I lost
my temper. I only meant to stop her long enough to listen.
You stopped her, all right.
I never would have hurt my Samantha, Jane cried. It was an
accident.
The older man faced her with bared teeth and red eyes. Lets go.
But he promised me a chance to tell her how I felt. Janes voice
was thin and shrill as she spun to face Mark. You promised. What
about my closure?
Her name was Laura, the cop said. And youll get your closure
in court. He tugged Jane by her handcuffs. Today, we have ours.
Mark gripped the older mans shoulder. Good to have you back, Dad.

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is a New York Times best-selling author who has won


the Anthony, Barry, and Derringer Awards for her crime fiction. She currently writes two amateur-sleuth mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime:
the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries. Her favorite pastimes include traveling with her husband and hanging out with
her kids. She lives in the Chicago area.
J u lie H y z y

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